How To Welcome a New Employee to a Hybrid Team
March 10, 2023
Hybrid work models have become increasingly popular in today’s business world. By some estimates, 74% of companies in the U.S. are embracing some form of hybrid work or planning to in the future. Part of creating a successful hybrid workplace is to welcome new employees onto the team in a way that makes them feel comfortable, supported, and valued.
However, onboarding new employees to a hybrid team can be challenging because not every team member works in the same location. With various time zones and work environments, it can be difficult to expose new employees to the company's social sphere and culture, demonstrate the company's values, and help them make meaningful connections with their colleagues.
Whether you’re introducing a new remote hire or an in-office employee, it’s equally crucial to halp them smoothly integrate them into your organization's culture, community, and workflow.
The Importance of Onboarding
When you commit time and resources to onboard new hybrid team members, you can expect increases in employee retention and engagement due to reduced mental bandwidth costs, effective social integration, proper equipment, and reinforced organizational culture.
Reduced unnecessary mental bandwidth costs
Mental bandwidth is the energy and focus an employee puts into their job. For new hires, this bandwidth can easily be drained while they adapt to an unfamiliar workplace and the expectations of their new roles.
When onboarding an employee who will work in an office setting, orienting them to their surroundings can help reduce the amount of mental energy required to adapt to it. Let them know where the bathroom, kitchen or break room, and their workspace are located, and reiterate your expectations for their role over the first few days.
For remote employees, information regarding availability expectations, their work-from-home setup, communication protocols, and sharing relevant documents should be provided upfront to lessen the mental and emotional burden of learning a new role. Providing this helpful information early in onboarding ensures that new employees can focus their energy on performing their jobs to the best of their abilities.
Effective social integration of new members
Onboarding new employees can help effectively integrate them into your hybrid team's social sphere. The new hire can connect with peers, mentors, and other team members to begin building relationships and becoming part of the company's culture.
For in-office employees, onboarding activities can include introducing them to their colleagues, taking them out for lunch or coffee, and having them attend team meetings. These activities can help create a sense of belonging and foster meaningful connections between new hires and their colleagues.
For remote employees, activities such as virtual coffee breaks, informal meetings aimed at getting to know one another, and team-building exercises can help them build trust and establish relationships with their colleagues.
Assurance that new team members are properly equipped
Onboarding also provides the opportunity to ensure that newcomers have everything they need to succeed in their new roles. This step is especially important for hybrid teams in which members work from different locations and might have varied access to documents, systems, and resources.
Setting employees up for success in your organization might include providing them with necessary tools, such as a computer or phone, setting up their company email account, creating their profile on the team's collaboration platform, and introducing them to their work environment.
Remote and in-office employees both need access to necessary documents, systems, and resources that are needed for their roles. The onboarding process should also include setting up a video-conferencing system and providing guidance on how to stay connected with their colleagues. This is also the perfect time to acquaint them with the company intranet platform to ensure successful collaboration across teams.
Help reinforce organizational culture
During the onboarding process, introduce newcomers to the company's mission and values. For instance, your company may emphasize collaboration, innovation, and customer service.
New employees also benefit from seeing examples of organizational culture in action. Being exposed to the daily routines of their colleagues, seeing how they interact and collaborate with each other, and observing how they identify and solve problems can help new hires understand the organizational culture.
While that crucial experience was historically gained in person, it’s now accessible through online interactions as well.
Tips for Onboarding New Employees to a Hybrid Team
Helping each group member feel accepted and connected can promote success for the entire organization. The following tips can help you facilitate a smooth onboarding process for a hybrid team.
Prioritize onboarding basics
Onboarding for hybrid teams should include basics such as helping employees set up accounts for email and collaboration software and providing learning resources. Depending on the company and role, resources can include manuals, tutorials, and dedicated onboarding courses.
In addition to explaining how to use the provided resources, it’s important that employees know who to reach out to when questions or issues arise. Prioritizing these steps can help new employees settle into new roles more smoothly.
Prepare a welcoming email
Email might not be the most advanced option in a communicator’s toolkit, it does provide the opportunity to connect with new employees even prior to their first day.
An upbeat, personalized email is a great way to welcome new employees to the team and express your excitement about their joining. If there are any onboarding documents that need to be filled out, include them in the email as well. Including onboarding documents can help new employees get acquainted with the company right away. These documents can contain information about company policies, benefits, procedures, and other necessary details.
Help new hires build connections
Introduce the new hire to each team member individually and ask other departments to send welcome messages so that they can make personal connections. You can also schedule informal meetings like coffee breaks for new hires and their colleagues.
Whether in-person or virtually, everyone on the team can have the opportunity to chat casually and help new hires build connections. Offer activities to help newcomers learn more about their team members, like ice-breaker questions at the start of regular business meetings, and invite them to join team-wide events and video calls to help them feel included.
Send swag boxes
Swag boxes are a fun way to welcome new employees and put smiles on their faces. They can include items such as branded apparel, stationery, or other gifts that represent the company’s values and culture.
You can include a handwritten note from their manager or colleagues to show that the team is excited to have them onboard. These fun gifts are a great way to help new employees feel connected to the company and its culture, even if they work remotely. They can be sent directly to the employee’s home or office, or you can offer them for pickup at the company's office to provide an opportunity for face-to-face interactions.
Set clear expectations
New employees should have clear expectations around their roles, tasks, timelines, and deadlines. Provide new hires with clear expectations from the start and ensure they have access to all of the resources that they need to succeed in their roles.
Be sure to explain key performance indicators and how their work will be evaluated. In regard to their role, explain what success looks like and how results will be tracked. By setting clear expectations from the start, new employees can focus on achieving those goals without feeling overwhelmed.
Implement communication guidelines
Communication is critical for any team, but especially for a hybrid team. It helps create a sense of unity and connectedness between remote and in-office employees; however, good communication doesn’t just happen. It needs to be nurtured.
Start by implementing communication guidelines for the team and make sure new employees understand them. Explain how employees should use emails, phone calls, video chats, and other forms of communication. You can also include expectations around response times so that employees know what to expect when writing to one another.
Try to create an environment where communication is open and frequent. Encourage collaboration and helpful feedback so that everyone feels heard and part of the team.
Make sure new hires have access to support
In a hybrid team setting, it’s important that new hires can get the support they need from their managers and colleagues. Create channels for open communication and foster a culture of feedback so that everyone feels comfortable raising questions and concerns.
Encourage team members to be available and responsive to requests from new employees. This approach will help new hires feel comfortable speaking up and asking for help when needed. That way, they can focus on their tasks and adapt to their new roles faster.
Introduce new employees to collaboration tools early on, so they know how to use them for team conversations, meetings, and project management. If the team uses any shared documents or files, make sure new hires have access to them so that they can stay up to date on any changes. By leveraging technology like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and your intranet, you can ensure that remote and in-office employees are always in sync while working toward their common goals.
Be mindful of time zones
When managing a hybrid team, be mindful that people may live in different time zones. A meeting scheduled for 9 a.m. EST is really early for those on the West Coast, so consider having two or more meetings to accommodate different schedules.
It’s also important to remind employees that there is often no “optimal” time for hybrid team members. Try to meet in the middle and be flexible. Showing empathy and understanding goes a long way toward creating an environment where all employees feel included.
Assign buddies or mentors
A buddy or mentor should be someone on the same team as the new employee, and who has the experience and desire to support and guide newer employees. The best buddies and mentors are people who have been working with the team for some time because they can provide an insider’s perspective and make the onboarding process more comfortable.
Assigning buddies or mentors is a great way to help new hires get up to speed quickly in their roles. Buddies can answer questions and provide guidance on topics related to the job, as well as provide information about company culture and processes. Mentors should have the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience to give meaningful advice on how to develop professionally.
Offer flexible working hours
The demand for flexible working hours is growing, particularly among new hires. 95% of employees included Future Forum’s recent Pulse survey said they want flexibility when it comes to working schedules. Offering flexible working hours can help new employees balance their work and personal lives more effectively. Flexibility also encourages them to be productive and engaged with their work because they know that they can adjust their hours to suit different tasks.
There are many ways to offer flexibility. For instance, you can provide flexible start times and break times, and alternative working locations. You can also allow in-office employees to work from home some days of the week.
Give early feedback
The importance of early feedback for new employees cannot be overemphasized. Feedback can help them feel valued, accelerate productivity, and help create a culture of honesty and openness. There’s no better time to start giving feedback than during the onboarding process. Let employees know in which areas they’ve done well and where they need to improve.
Set Up New Employees for Future Success
Welcoming new employees onto a hybrid team doesn’t have to be stressful or challenging. With some planning and creativity, you can make sure that they feel at home while boosting employee engagement and retention. Help them build connections, provide them with clear expectations, offer flexible working arrangements, give regular feedback, and equip them with all of the tools that they need to excel in their new role so your company can excel too.